Tracing the “psychologies” and “pathologies” of this season’s presidential election in her new book, The Year of Voting Dangerously, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd writes that the “fury” of the 2016 electorate is spawning a number of “wildly improbable candidates [for down ballot races] in both parties.” Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, one such improbable candidate just announced his intention to seek public office.
Curt Schilling, the former Red Sox pitcher and an avid Trump supporter, has announced he plans to challenge U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2018.
What has Schilling been up to lately? Since his Red Sox days, Schilling has become – wait for it — an entrepreneur and entertainer. His disastrous foray into business, the doomed 38 Studios, is but one piece of fodder for Warren to feast upon. Purportedly a limited government and small business conservative, Schilling was lured to Rhode Island by a $75 million taxpayer-backed loan guarantee to launch a video-game company. It went bankrupt in 2012 and four years later is still scandal plagued. His insincere and insipid explanation of the matter in The Providence Journal last week is reminiscent of Trump’s explanations of his sexual shenanigans: Deny it and blame another party.
Like the Republican presidential nominee, Schilling has taken to Facebook and Twitter and blogging as a means of distributing his often rambling and incoherent thoughts. But this gem from an April 19 posting can be taken earnestly: “I’m loud, I talk too much, I think I know more than I do, those and a billion other issues I know I have.”
This past April, Schilling was fired from ESPN as a baseball analyst for a meme he posted on Facebook “that appeared to mock transgender people,” noted The Atlantic. Before this incident, in August of 2015 he was suspended by ESPN for posting an anti-Muslim meme.
Last month Schilling debuted a new radio program. Describing him as an “outspoken conservative,” The Boston Globe underscored that he “solidified the show’s right-leaning reputation” when he interviewed commentator Ann Coulter. And the hits keep on coming… It has been announced that Schilling is joining Breitbart with an online radio show, giving him national exposure. As nymag.com posted: “‘He got kicked off ESPN for his conservative views. He’s a really talented broadcaster,’ Breitbart editor in chief Alex Marlow said.”
But Mass. Republicans beware. What Trump has done to national politics — reducing the once respectable national Republican Party to rubble — his Massachusetts Mini-Me just may do to the state GOP.
Just as the state party has regained its respectability with the 2014 election of Gov. Charlie Baker, a Schilling candidacy would mark its sure death-knell in 2018. State Republican leaders should be mindful that Schilling would appear on the same 2018 ballot as Baker, should the governor run for reelection.
Baker, popular and pragmatic, has proven that a Republican can be successful in campaigning and governing in a state where he is vastly outnumbered by Democrats. Baker, therefore, should be the party’s primary concern and should not have to effectively compete with the incendiary Schilling, a probable Great Distractor, and a likely formidable Democratic challenger. State GOP Chair Kirsten Hughes will hopefully understand this now, seeing as how National GOP Chair Reince Priebus surrendered to Trump; Priebus never understood the Trump effect and allowed Trump to pillage the party.
Senator Warren should almost be allowed to run unopposed as a national and local beacon of the bankrupt ideas and principles of progressivism, and her crowning achievement, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. In an imagined superpower summit between Hillary Clinton and Warren in her book, Dowd envisions the senator saying, “I only loaned Bernie [Sanders] my progressive hordes. I’m the real leader of that movement.” But that is art imitating life.
Nevertheless, it will be ugly watching Warren make mincemeat out of Schilling.
James P. Freeman, a friend of New England Diary, is a New England-based essayist and former banker. This first ran in the New Boston Post.